What sells vs. what makes me feel alive
Written by
Madison Sonnier
August 2012
Written by
Madison Sonnier
August 2012

I don't know too much about the writing profession. I'm slowly easing my way into career/responsible adult land, and I have a lot left to learn. I'm just a beginner and a somewhat naive little human who likes to share her guts with the rest of the world. Sharing my guts makes me feel alive. When people write to me and tell me how much I've inspired them, I feel like I've made a difference. And before I go any further, I want you to know that inspiring other people is infinitely more valuable than any amount of money I receive.


But I'm trying to do this for a living. I want to be one of those people who is lucky enough to say that they genuinely love what they do. I don't expect this journey into career/responsible adult land to be easy at all. I'm just starting out. I have a long way to go. But there is one thing I've learned so far, and it sort of confirms one of the biggest fears I had before deciding to do this.

Very few people are willing to pay me for my guts. 


I got an email yesterday from a website I've been writing for, and they told me that the personalized tone I used in my writing was unprofessional and that publishers wouldn't be interested in it. This didn't really bother me too much because I've heard it before and have come to expect it every now and then, but it still brought up that familiar fear that I won't be able to financially sustain myself by continuing to share my heart, soul and guts alone.


And the article that the email was more specifically referring to was actually a self-help article. I'm sorry, but I can't write a self-help article without at least putting a little bit of personalization in it.


A fellow writing friend of mine once said that writing a self-help article without a little story from your own life will come across with a tone of authority or removal. And I would rather hit myself in the face with a frying pan than write like I'm above anyone else---like I know the answers, yet don't have a vulnerable, personal story to back that up.

If I take the personalization out of the inspirational or self-help pieces I write, then I'm not being true to myself.

I want to make a living being true to myself. I want the kind of writing that makes me feel alive to sell. I know it's possible because I know people who share their guts and still make decent money.

I'm perfectly capable of writing the informative, journalistic type of writing that sells. But that's not what feeds my soul and makes me wake up with a smile on my face in the mornings.

Writing about my life, sharing my stories and getting emails from people who have been moved by something I wrote is what feeds my soul and makes me wake up with a smile on my face in the mornings.

And that's the kind of writing I want to share for the rest of my life. I just wish publishers didn't think it was unprofessional and not worth spending money on. 

What do YOU think? Can you relate to this post? Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for me?

<3 Madison 


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  • Sheryl Sorrentino

    I have practiced law for near 25 years, but never have I felt bolder or "gutsier" than when putting my fiction "out there." It definitely is hard to stay genuine and true to oneself while trying to "make it" as a professional writer. But the way I see it, to do anything less, I might as well keep doing the well-paying thing that doesn't feed my soul.